Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Project 42 - Unrepresented defendants

Project No. 42

Commenced: 1973
Withdrawn: 1982

The reference arose because of a number of problems caused by the position of unrepresented defendants in the Courts of Petty Sessions. It was recognised that unrepresented defendants may sometimes plead guilty to charges they do not understand and that this had occurred in circumstances where the defendant might not have been convicted if a lawyer had presented all the facts to the court on their behalf.

There was also concern that unrepresented defendants, when found guilty, may be unable to make a satisfactory plea in mitigation. The risk that unrepresented defendants may be treated unjustly was a primary consideration.

Terms of Reference

In 1973 the Commission was invited to consider and report on the desirability of any alterations in the procedures of the Courts of Petty Sessions in cases involving unrepresented defendants.


The reference was withdrawn in 1982. It was decided that the Commission should deal with the subject matter of this reference as part of the comprehensive reference on the Justices Act 1902 (WA): see Project No. 55.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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